I watched the video on the arrest of a small number of protestors outside Brickfields Police Station on May 7th , for holding a candle light vigil over the detention of Bersih activist Wong Chin Huat recently. Wong Chin Huat was detained by the police for urging the public to wear black as a sign of protest for the political fiasco prevailing in the state of Perak today.
I did not realised before this, that urging people to wear black is a civil offence that is subject to police arrest. This can be frightening, because I have in my closet a number of black T shirts, and so does my grandson. And what do I do now with these T shirts?
Following the arrest of the protestors, a group of lawyers from the Legal Aid Center that had come to provide legal aid to the detained protestors were denied access, and were subsequently arrested. How easy it is to arrest a group of people, even if they had come to provide genuine assistance. It would have been different if they had come with weapons and hailed scorn and profanities at the police. And of all things, the Legal Aid Center lawyers were all ladies.
Having seen the video, I could only say that the police could have acted in a more consolatory manner towards the protestors, rather than acting the way they did. Certainly, the action of the OCPD with his loud hailer to warn and to affect the arrest of the protestors and the Legal Aid Center lawyers, was bad police publicity. Rather than use the loud hailer, why had he not approach the protestors in a non confrontational manner, and to apply a bit of his skills at persuasion. Hasn't the OCPD been taught the art of persuasion at Police College? What the OCPD did was outright arrogance i.e. speaking behind the protection of the police gate, and speaking through a load hailer that was of no necessity, to a group of mild and non aggressive protestors. Even if the OCPD had ignored the protestors, they would have gradually left the area on their on accord. They would not have remained outside the police station the whole night long.
During my younger days in the Army, I was taught and trained in public order duties. We had a training manual that was commonly referred to as POMAN (Public Order Manual), that was a British publication.Besides training for jungle warfare which was important to us then, we also had to undergo public order duties training. And this two training programmes were at opposite ends. The reason being that while jungle warfare training teaches us to be aggressive and to kill the enemy; public order duties teaches us to act the contrary.............use restraint, persuasion and to apply minimum force when confronting the public. Unfortunately, I was never involved in public order duties.
Now the Bar Council has decided to file a civil suit against the government, the IGP and the Brickfield OCPD for the unlawful arrest of the Legal Aid Center lawyers. They had also demanded that the Home Affairs Minister Hishamuddin Hussein and the IGP to resigns from their post.
The action by the Bar Council is unprecedented, and it will be interesting to see how far can their actions proceed. Or will it just be a 'mild threat' of words, rather than action that will buckled the authorities? And are Malaysians about to witness a similar event that occurred in Pakistan recently, where lawyers took to the streets that eventually caused the downfall of the Musharaff government? My only hope is that, we do not need to see a public order situation arise out of this issue.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION